Angry Lane is the most-respected custom motorcycle brand in Hong Kong. Started by French brothers G and Ben Barras, they live, breathe and lean into riding culture. Their bikes, high-quality leather jackets, and other goods have a cult following globally. Ben and G also have a fierce reputation for being passionate about attention to detail. It was this passion that led Pacsafe to originally approach Angry Lane about a possible product collaboration.
“I have known the Angry Lane guys for quite a while,” explains Phil Hayes, EVP of Product and Marketing at Pacsafe. “We connected through a mutual love of bikes, surfing and art when I first moved to Hong Kong. When I started with Pacsafe I was going through some of the product in our vaults and came across a helmet protection design. I thought of them straight away. Their entrepreneurial spirit and demand for high quality mirror what we are all about and their long history of riding experience meant their insights on design would be a huge value-add. When I showed it to them they saw the same potential I did, and I knew we would be a great fit to work together. It’s been some time in the making, but the styles that have come out of it are really special.”
Featuring a backpack and a helmet cover, both collaboration pieces have been custom built for those who prefer the thrill of two-wheel travel. Each style uses tough materials, anti-theft designs and attention to detail, to help people enjoy their ride knowing their gear is covered.
We recently caught up with Ben and G to get their side of the collaboration, talk about the journey and find out what else might be in the cooker. Here’s the interview.
This collaboration started with a limited run on Kickstarter to test the reaction and get feedback from hardcore motorcycle lovers. How was the response to that and what was the driving force between going back for a second run?
G: The response has been amazing from backers and the motorcycle related press. Following the Kickstarter campaign, we launched the bags on Indiegogo and we have been getting pre-orders/orders ever since. Ultimately the driving force has been the demand for the products.
What kinds of problems were you trying to solve with these styles? Who are they for?
Ben: It’s quite inconvenient to move around with a helmet in your hands after parking your motorcycle. Pacsafe had the perfect security solution with their original eXomesh technique. The bag we developed further with them is light, lined with fleece, water-repellent and the main closing cable is sheathed so you don’t damage your helmet. We also developed a special carry pouch you can attach anywhere on the motorcycle frame. It’s weatherproof, made of water-repellent canvas with taped seams and water-resistant zippers. The other style we wanted to work on was a secure and compact backpack to protect the extras you carry when you ride – spare clothes in case of rain, your computer etc.
G: A majority of the early backers for these styles are motorcycle riders, but we also sold the bags to commuters who just loved the design, materials and smart safety details. We’ve received many messages from people saying that it was definitely their new “go-to bag for everything” or even the “best backpack ever”…rewarding to get so many nice comments. We didn’t receive one complaint!
What were some of the main things you learned during development?
Ben: Both of our companies have designed products for many years, including bags, so the main learning with this collaboration was really the eXomesh sandwich technique Pacsafe mastered over the years. It makes this bag really functional, but also completely secure.
I notice that Pacsafe has used some of the details from the bags (like velcro tabs to secure any loose straps) in the rest of their range. How does it feel to be able to contribute ideas that work beyond the collab?
Ben: (laughs) Yes, they also used our pouch idea as an accessory for other bags and developed rain covers with reflective prints and the concept of our ergonomic breathable back panel. We’ve been exposed to many kinds of products over the years, from all sorts of garments, bags, accessories, and technological products through our respective experience. It helps bring out-of-the-box ideas. We apply the same principals to our leather jackets or custom motorcycles. All-in-all we feel Pacsafe really dug our vision and how we are able to mix ideas and bring them into these products. We still have a lot more ideas, for fabric and on interactive technologies.
What’s the collaboration process like with Pacsafe? Run us through how the communication and development work.
Ben: We started with one of the original bag shells from Pacsafe that we then fully reworked. We added the ergonomic and breathable back panel, changed the shoulder straps for ergonomic ones, added a rain cover with reflective print, water-repellent zippers, and the army Molle system, as well as 2 big straps to carry skateboards. We provided these ideas, complete with technical specs and drawings, then moved into more details and refining. The first, then second sample came until we were all happy with the products. Working with Phil and Marcus was a really smooth process, they were totally open to our suggestions on how to make the ultimate rider’s bags. We are quite picky about what we envisioned and also construction, but we worked as a real team!
G: From the first meeting with Phil to the end product it took us nearly a year of going back and forth, adding features or details until we were all satisfied with the final products. Working together with Phil and Marcus was very easy. And Kristy who is the link with Pacsafe suppliers, sample development team and production helped a lot.
Which style are you most excited about with this collaboration?
Ben: Both styles are exciting really, but we have received a lot of amazing feedback on the backpack! From the construction to the ergonomic, usability and toughness of it – people really love it. We’ve also received many requests for a black version, or a bigger size.
G: I agree with Ben. The helmet safe bag is a purely practical product, while the backpack is the real statement piece.
If budget was no object, what kind of crazy bag or anti-theft solution would you like to build for riders?
Ben: If budget was no object..? Man, we would have launched the black model of the backpack as well as a bigger size, probably a special tool bag as well as saddlebags and many accessories. We are really into versatile products and we could have probably designed quite a capsule collection specific for the riders!
G: Ben’s right, we already have several ideas for specific bags. If budget was no object I would love to see extra pouches, or small feature options so that people could customize their bag to their own needs. Going crazy we would also incorporate a tracking device into the bag, so that if you leave the bag unattended and it goes beyond a perimeter you set-up on your mobile phone, you would get an alarm… so many possibilities with technology.
Where will the collaboration be available? Any special retailers you’d like to shout out to?
G: The collab is available through Pacsafe.com, Indiegogo, on our website and in our Hong Kong workshop, but also in some retailers in the US, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany and even Thailand. A Japanese company is also interested. The products are talking for themselves and I am sure other retailers will show interest in the bags.
Finally, is there anything else in the pipeline with you and Pacsafe? What’s next?
Ben: We think the next one would be to produce a black version of the backpack, maybe in a bigger size. We did a version during development in Cordura material with a few touches of red and the leather patch. It was a killer version! But again, we have tons of ideas for bikers and we would be happy to pursue.
G: Ben’s right, we have people asking us to develop a bigger bag in black. That’s on our next meeting agenda with Phil. At Angry Lane we are currently working on a luxury-caliber leather jacket with an incorporated NFC (Near Field Communication) chip to launch specific actions with your mobile phone. It also has a pocket which blocks any signals from and to a mobile phone… in case you want to vanish from the digital world for a while, or keep your hi-tech car key safe from scanners.
To read more about Angry Lane, you can head to their website here.
To view the collaboration collection in all it’s road-warrior glory, head here.
By Tim Hawken
Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading to his website, or following him on Instagram and Twitter.